The demand for professional PR support by local PR experts in the Czech Republic is growing as Eastern Europe becomes an increasingly attractive market for international companies. Learn more about current communication trends in today’s interview with PR expert Martin Frydl, as part of our interview series* regarding international public relations and the best practices.
1. What is the latest trend (change) in PR you have identified in your region?
Martin Frydl: There are several trends we have observed lately. First is geographical. Many clients are now looking further east and they are establishing Prague as their base for further expansion. What they therefore need is help in coordinating the PR activities within the whole EMEA region.
Another strong trend comes as a result of the recent global economical crisis. Clients have found out what a good PR can achieve in the troubled times and they much more clearly realized high value/money ratio of PR compared to other marketing disciplines such as ATL or BTL. As a paradox, economical crisis brought the whole PR stronger footage and prestige in the eyes of our clients.
And finally, as elsewhere, clients are investing heavily into social media. However, we feel that the companies on the Czech market are doing this step by step, deeply thinking about the return on investment before they commit themselves.
2. How does your agency handle / embrace this?
Martin Frydl: As for the first point, we are continuously strengthening our relations with other PR agencies within the GlobalCom network. If you want to serve the clients on different markets and to be able to coordinate this, you need reliable partners.
Second point is not about coping but more about utilizing the opportunity. We are currently growing organically by strengthening the budgets with existing clients and also externally by getting a lot of new clients. And as this is all about people, we are currently concentrating on strengthening of our team.
And finally, regarding social media – we are lucky to work with clients who are deeply thinking about this new trend and who are giving us the opportunity to test innovative ideas. We have been for instance developing Nokia CZ Facebook project for the past year and thanks to activities such as interactive lending of devices to fans for testing etc. have become clearly the best page in the segment on Czech Facebook.
3. Can you give a recent example from a project or best practice?
Martin Frydl: Maybe one confirming that “timing is everything”. We managed to persuade one of our clients from finance sector to do a press conference regarding 2010 market results for the mortgage market on January 5, 2011. Although we did not have exact numbers yet, we prepared estimates which were really close to reality. We were the first ones to publish the numbers and the publicity was really broad. PR lesson coming from this is that if you are bold and quick, rewards can be huge.
4. Are there PR practices in which you think your region differs from PR in other part of the world?
Martin Frydl: Although it has belonged to communist block in the second half of 20th century, Czech Republic has been historically more part of western than eastern Europe. This is a fact which clients coming from the west tend to forget. Media and journalists here are therefore for instance very independent and their behaviour is close to the western model.
The Czech Republic is also very good base for further expansion east. On one hand, clients can work in the business environment almost identical to western standards, on the other hand they can utilize our understanding of the markets lying further east.
5. Can you describe common mistakes foreign companies make?
Martin Frydl: I think this is the same all over the world… Implementing global strategy locally without giving space to local specifics is the worst you can do. Fortunately, this is much more frequently seen in ATL and other marketing fields than in PR. PR is lucky to get relative independence. This is where international PR comes in and makes a significant difference.
6. What do clients from other markets need to keep in mind when they plan to do PR in your region?
Martin Frydl: Listen to your local team and your local agencies. More: encourage them to tell you what they think. Only they can tell you what works on the local market and what does not. If you do not listen, you will invest a lot of time and money into activities without corresponding results.
Martin Frydl has worked for the past 15 years as an Executive Partner of AC&C Public Relations, one of the leading Czech communication consultancies. He is responsible for the key clients service coordination and for strategic planning of communication programs for clients such as Nokia, T-Mobile or Honeywell He is also involved in activities of the Association of Czech Public Relations Agencies (APRA) as an executive board member responsible for external communication. In early 90’s he worked as a reporter in the business news section of the publicly owned TV broadcaster Czech TV and subsequently as deputy editor-in-chief of the leading national business daily Hospodářské noviny.
*This series is based on phone or face-to-face interviews and written input, therefore please excuse language mistakes which might reflect foreign language influences.